Update from Interim Baylor President David GarlandNov. 13, 2008
The following was sent to all students, faculty and staff today by Baylor University Interim President David Garland. It contains the latest information regarding the university's investigation of events that occurred last week following the presidential election:
Dear Baylor community,
I want you to know that we have continued our investigation of the events that were reported on the Baylor campus Tuesday of last week and have new information to share with you.
First, let me say how grateful I am to the students who have come forward and provided important information to Baylor police. It is because of them that I am able to report to you today progress in our investigation.
On Wednesday afternoon, a student met with Baylor police and provided information pertaining to the rope that was found on campus. This student claimed responsibility for the rope and described its origin. The student explained that he had been spending time with a group of friends on Fountain Mall the evening before the election and had discovered a rope he believed to have been from one of the tents used during the university's homecoming activities. The students thought they could use the rope to create a rope swing. The students tied one end of the rope to a limb of the tree and tied the other end in a loop from which they attempted to swing. Later they abandoned the swing. The students strongly deny that the rope was intended to mimic a noose or to convey a message of any sort.
Yesterday evening, a diverse group of male and female students who had been involved in the creation of the rope swing attended a meeting of student leaders who were together planning the unity march that is scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow on campus. They conveyed their story and I'm told that student leaders expressed appreciation for their courage in coming forward and understood the incident as an unfortunate misunderstanding.
Late last week, students met with Baylor police and described the source of the fire in the barbecue pits outside Brooks Flats as empty computer boxes they had found in the area of the Fifth Street Parking Garage. Baylor police also have identified and spoken personally with a number of students involved in the post-election disturbance outside Penland Hall.
While we are all eager to move beyond the events of the past 10 days and the negative light they have cast over our campus, this experience also calls our attention to the challenges that remain before us. Relentless pursuit of campus unity is a work to which we must continue to commit ourselves if we are to truly embody our unique calling as a Christian university in the Baptist tradition.
I am so pleased with the events, meetings and discussions that have taken place on our campus during the past week. Diverse groups of students, faculty and staff have gathered to speak openly and share concerns. Student leaders representing student government and multicultural organizations have come together to plan future events and programs. Prayer has united our campus. We have launched the Bias Motivated Incident Support Team (BMIST), and I've been pleased to have the opportunity to meet personally with a number of campus leaders who have shared with me ideas they have to increase unity within the Baylor family. Faculty, staff and students have spoken out, decrying racism of any form on our campus. All of this good work must continue.
As I have stated previously, we have been and will remain intentional in our progress toward enriching the racial and ethnic fabric of our university, and we remain committed to providing an environment in which diversity is encouraged, welcomed and engaged constructively. Baylor University was founded on a commitment to high Christian ideals. The Lord Himself reminds us that chief among those ideals is a commandment that we love one another. In so doing, we honor Christ and we demonstrate to the world that to which we hold most dearly as members of the university we love and have been called to serve.
Dr. David E. Garland